The first thing to do when a website goes down is not panic!
All website owners have experienced this one way or another. The website will be working fine one minute. The next minute, the website is down. Not an ideal scenario. What is a website owner to do? We put together a list of troubleshooting steps you can perform. These steps will help you find the actual problem and resolve the issue. No one likes when a website goes down, especially during peak browsing times. Note these steps are for a WordPress based website.
#1 Is Your Web Host Experiencing Issues?
When a website goes down, there are numerous factors that could’ve happen. One of the main culprits is to check with your web hosting provider. Most of the time, the web host is experiencing technical issues. These can range from data centers experiencing power issues to a natural disaster hitting the data center.
These are a bit on the extreme side, but we have experienced these issues in the past. What is a website owner to do in this situation? One solution is to have a backup host ready in the wings. We’ll use a basketball analogy for the backup server. The backup web host can act as a sixth man on a basketball team. The sixth man is typically a player who can be a starter in the lineup. However, he’s more valuable coming off the bench providing his much needed skill set. In this instance, the backup host is waiting on the bench ready to play. You simply switch web host and point the website to the cloned website. Instead of waiting and wondering when the web host will be back up and functioning, you have another web host waiting on the bench.
Pro Tip: Make sure when you pick a backup web host you pick a different provider. For example, you can use SiteGround as your main host and BlueHost as a backup. Having the website on different web hosts helps prevent using the same host should issues arise.
#2 Did You Update A Plugin Recently?
Plugins are what make the WordPress platform unique to its competitors. Plugins are components that add custom functionality to a WordPress website. Once installed the administrator activates the plugin to begin using it on the website. The idea of WordPress plugins are to add components that a non-developer would not know how to program. In certain instances plugins can be extremely useful. For example, adding a contact form to a contact page. Sometimes plugins are not programmed properly, don’t play nice with a newer version of WordPress, or the source code in the plugin conflicts with other plugins.
If a WordPress admin were to update or add a plugin. There may be a chance you receive the white screen of death (WSOD). In this case you’re pretty much on an island. Not too worry! There are a couple of troubleshooting steps you can take in order to resolve the issue. First, determine if an update caused the crash. Did you update or install a plugin and all of a sudden the WSOD appeared? Below are some basic troubleshooting steps you can take.
- Determine which plugin you updated (or installed) and find the version before hand. Depending on where the plugin was downloaded, you may be able to revert back to the previous version.
- Once you have the old plugin, head to Cpanel or FTP into the website.
- Navigate to the wp-content (folders) – plugins (folder) – find the plugin and rename the culprit plugin folder by adding .disable to the plugin
- Install or upload the previous version plugin – wait for upload to complete
- Refresh the web page and all should be back to normal
This is an extremely simplified version of troubleshooting with basic steps. We want you as the administrator of the website to understand that not all plugins are programmed equally. Always perform your due diligence when deciding to install a plugin on the website. Be sure to put emotion aside when troubleshooting. Keep your poise throughout the entire process.
Research each plugin before installing the component on the website. Making sure the developer is consistently updating the plugin is a good sign. Plugins that have not been updated in years should be ignored.Pro Tip: Choosing plugins should be a smart decision.
#3 Did A WordPress Update Kill My Website?
Updating WordPress core files is a must when maintaining a WordPress based website. There are some instances when a WordPress update made the website goes down. In these situations there are a couple of options you have to remedy the situation. Before we provide the solution, be sure to take a backup of the existing website. First, if you haven’t updated your WordPress website in quite some time, chances the update may break the website increase. Let’s take this scenario and run with it. Let’s say you run a WordPress core update and notice the site becomes inaccessible. Rule number one is to not panic. We determine the core update broke the website. What do we do in this situation?
If you are familiar with the version of WordPress you had previously. Head to the WordPress.org core files release archive and download the version your website was previously on. From here you have two options. One is to upload the old WordPress core files through an FTP client. The only folder you do not replace is the wp-content folder. If you are unfamiliar with FTP, then the second option is to upload all the files, minus wp-content, through cPanel. The cPanel has a specific area called File Management where an admin can upload, edit, and erase files and folders. Once you upload the WordPress core files, head back to the website and refresh. If all is working, success! If not, you’ll need to head to the WordPress release archive to download the version your WordPress website was previously on.
Pro Tip: If the website is still functioning odd try disabling plugins by renaming each one .disable. Try each plugin one at a time to see if a plugin is the culprit. If all else fails time to hire a WordPress pro to assist! 😉
We provided a list of basic troubleshooting steps for the average user to perform when a WordPress website goes down. Web hosts can be the main culprit at times. Having a backup server in the wings can be the star bench player you need during crunch time. Keeping a website updated means having plugins, themes, and WordPress core files updated to the latest version. Even though some updates may implode a website. We provided a list of steps you can take in order to resolve any of the issues mentioned above. For all the DiYers give these steps a shot. If you run into any issues, holler at us in the comments section to collaborate. If you’re afraid of breaking more of the website we can chat in the comments as well. Good luck and may the WordPress force be with you!